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Posted on: March 23, 2010 3:35 pm
 

Expansion-Pac 10 Wondering If It Needs It

CBS'  Dennis Dodd reported today that the commissioner of the Pac-10 has had conversations with the Big 10 and Big East about holding a championshp game with less than the NCAA-mandated twelve teams.
www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/s
tory/13102294/pac10-looking-at-titl
e-game-possibilities-without-expans
ion

The article notes that there's not a lot of value for the Pac-10 adding teams.  Unlike the Big Ten, it does not have a cable network that is driving the expansion issue.   (Although, there reportedly have been talks about the Pac-10 and/or Big 12 joining forces to form one.)
Dodd's article leaves the impression though that the Pac-10 might be interested in staying at ten teams but having a championship game.  What stands in the way are NCAA bylaws that require a conference to have 12 teams to hold a conference championship.

So I'm reading this article and I'm thinking, well good luck with that Pac-10.  If I remember correctly the ACC wanted to do the same thing but was told they needed twelve teams.  That set them on the path to expansion and the Big East raid.   So why is the Pac-10 commissioner bothering to talk to the Big East and Big Ten about this?  Well they're the only BCS conferences that don't have a conference championship.  Maybe he's trying to cobble together some support to get the twelve team rule overturned?

Here's another thought.  What if the Pac-10 decided to set up a championship game that involved not one but two or more conferences?   Suppose the Pac-10 approaches the Big East and says, "Hey let's soak up some of this post regular-season, pre bowl time TV time  and maximize our TV revenue by staging a Pac-10/Big East championship?"  Now I'd include the Big Ten in this idea because it, or at least Joe Paterno and Barry Alvarez are concerned about the Big Ten disappearing from the public eye after conclusion of the Big Ten season.  Expansion, however, makes more sense for the Big Ten because of the potential for further profits from their Big Ten Network cash cow.

The Big East and the Pac-10 don't have that option.  If Dodd reports that the Pac-10 is having trouble finding schools "valuable" enough to support expansion, how do you think the Big East feels?  The Pac-10 targets could be Utah, BYU, and Colorado.  The Big East gets to look at UCF, Memphis, and East Carolina.  Now don't get me wrong, I think any of these schools could become valuable members of the Big East, just as USF, Cincinnati, and Louisville did.  "Become" is the operative word though.  They're not going to come in and immediately increase the pie.

But a Pac-10/Big East championship would increase the TV revenues of both conferences.  Some hungry network would be happy to pick it up during the week of the other conference championships.  You don't have to expand to do it.   Finally, it gets you back in the public eye during conference championship week.  Alternate the site between the Pac 10/BE champ for the first few years so you don't have the embarrassment of an empty Gator Bowl like the ACC had.  If you get a really prime matchup like a highly ranked West Virginia and USC you can always move it to a larger pro stadium nearby if deamand warrants it.  In fact most of the teams in these conferences line up pretty well with nearby pro stadiums.  Just look at the BE:  WV and Pitt- Heinz Field in Pittsburgh,  Cincy and Louisville-Paul Brown Stadium, Rutgers, UConn, Syracuse-The new Meadowlands, USF- Raymond James Stadium.  The Pac 10 already has USC, UCLA, in the LA Coliseum and Rose Bowl, Cal's Memorial Stadium seats 75,000, Stanford can play at Candlestick, Husky Stadium holds 72,500,  (Sorry Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State, you get to schlep to Seattle), and Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium and Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Now, I'm sure the bowl interests would fight this tooth and nail.  The Big Ten wouldn't like it.  But, hey, with the Big Ten's potential expansion, it' a bold new world in college football right?

Now, will this stave off expansion for both of these conferences forever?  No.  But not a bad interim step to make some money.



Posted on: March 20, 2010 4:24 pm
 

Big Ten Expansion Rumour Du Jour -ND, Rutgers, BC

Just when Big Ten expansion rumours were starting to quiet down, whistling in from the heartland of the nation comes this gem:
Radio host Steve Daece in Des Moines, Iowa quotes "sources in the Michigan athletic department" believing that Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Boston College are likely to be announced as winners of the Big Ten Beauty Pageant in 2-3 months.  Posters in Iowa have on the one hand alleged that Daece's source is the guy who drives the Little Debby Snacks truck to cafeteria  and on the other hand lauded Daece as an accurate prognosticator.  So anyone's guess on the validity of this one is, well, valid.

So let's look at this premise.  1.  Notre Dame.   Duh!  Yes the Big Ten will be happy to open its doors to the Golden Domers despite being spurned in the past.  Rumours from the Big Ten indicate that ND will have to do the courting this time.  This is like that hot chick that shot you down has to give you a sign that she's interested now.  So if ND looks coyly at the Big Ten and smiles, they're in. 

2.  Rutgers.  Yes I can hear the wailing and gnashing of elitist teeth already.  No Texas?  Uh, no.  But the Big Ten deserves better.  Yes and I deserve to retire right now to a life of playing golf, drinking good bourbon, and doing whatever the hell I feel like.  Ain't gonna happen.  Let me spell it out.  The Big Ten Network wants to make more money.  They want the NY/NJ television sets.  A lot of them.  Sorry Michigan, Penn State and whatever other Big Ten school that has at least one alumnus in NYC, you're just not getting it done.  Furthermore, the duo of Rutgers and Notre Dame on the BTN is a pretty good argument to get it on the basic tier.  And maybe, just maybe the BTN can get a bump in Philadelphia rates (4th largest DMA) with Rutgers in the fold as well. So despite many Big Ten fans' belief that Rutgers isn't worthy of the Big Ten, the fact remains that the Big Ten Network isn't worthy of getting on the basic tier in the NY/NJ area without them.  Deal with it.


3.  Boston College.  Now this one to me is a stretch.  Yes, you traditionophiles, BC has it, they have a rivalry with ND,  they've had success in football having made it to the ACC championship twice.  But if you talk to the ACC, you kinda get the impression that they're not that happy with new member Boston College.  Well at least their bowl partners anyway, that try to shun the Eagles every year because of their poor fan support.  The fact is, even the ACC Championship draws poorly when BC's in it.  BC wasn't in the original "5 team report" bandied about in the Chicago Tribune.  Add in that BC's 44,500 seat Alumi Stadium would be the smallest in the Big Ten and BC looks like a questionable choice.  How about Boston TV sets? Boston has the 6th largest DMA, better than any Big Ten home city with the exception of Chicago (Northwestern).  The TV argument is there along with adding another state to the Big Ten footprint.  Will BC really increase the pie of the Big Ten Network enough to justify its addition?  I don't have the answer but from what I read, BC has been somewhat of a disappointment in the ACC TV wise.  Could it change if they're playing Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State instead of Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia Tech?  My guess would be yes.  

How about Notre Dame's coattails?  Suppose ND says we'll only join if we can bring BC with us.  Now why Notre Dame would do this other than that they're both private Catholic schools is beyond my comprehension.  In fact Notre Dame apparently got rather tired of being beaten by Boston College on the football field and has not renewed the series.   Notre Dame doesn't need to bring rivals to the Big Ten, it already has plenty.

If Notre Dame is campaigning for BC's admission, it would explain why the Eagles are being mentioned now while being omitted from the "Report of Five."  The idea of the Big Ten's two eastern outposts located in the DMA of over 10% of the nations total number of TV sets does have some allure to it.  You would think that the Fighting Irish would have a few fans in New York and Boston as well.   If the trend is toward superconferences, the Big Ten would pluck some prime real estate in the NYC, Philadelphia, and Boston areas if it does pull this off.  Who knows, maybe the ACC would be happy to swap out BC and swap in a West Virginia, that actually has rivalries with Maryland and Virginia Tech?  Well it passes the giggle test anyway. 
Posted on: March 14, 2010 12:21 pm
 

Expansion - Time for the ACC to Enter the Fray?

And the plot thickens even further.  So is the Big Ten plan to cherry pick one or more Big East teams if Notre Dame doesn't come around?  Well don't wait to long Jim Delany.  You may have competition soon.  It's called the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Hold it, the ACC already has 12 teams.  Expansion for the ACC has been a money-maker by some reports, but hasn't put the ACC in a position to challenge the SEC.  Miami is still trying to return to a dominant team.  Virginia Tech and Boston College have both made the ACC championship the past few years.  With embarrassing results attendance wise.  So you'd think the ACC would have had enough expansion for a while.

Well think again.  According to an article in Sports Business Journal, the ACC's television negotiations with ESPN aren't really going that well.  Seems the ACC thinks they should get a 60 to 70% increase.  ESPN apparently has told them, "Sorry, you're not the Big Ten or SEC."  The reason?  According to unnamed media executives, the "weakness of the ACC's football teams."
http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=acc+ourand+tepid&d=755400772582&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=974aae56,269d1ed0

Can't you just see the ACC honchos, scratching their heads and saying, "Hmmm, I wonder where we can get some good football teams that will make the TV networks give us more money?  Well we certainly don't want to geographically expand our footprint.  Going to Boston College is far enough already.  If we could only find some decent teams a little closer than Boston College.  We could revamp divisions, save some travel costs by going to geographical divisions with only a few out of division games.   We could come up with a rival for BC.  And of course, we could get some more money out of those TV devils.  If only there were some teams that could do that.  Are there any teams like that close to Boston College?  Or if not,  how about Maryland, who's the next farthest north.  Aren't there some schools around there that have strong football teams?"

Nah forget it.  The ACC wouldn't know how to go about getting teams from other conferences to join.  Just not something they'd do.  Never mind.

Posted on: March 12, 2010 7:51 pm
 

Abandon Ship? Is WV heading for the lifeboats?

How can you not like Bill Stewart?  He comes across a genuine, straight-shooter.   And crazy like a fox.  Stewart in his folksy way today basically said that he sees a future without the Big East.   He's not worried, because West Virginia will probably land in the SEC or the ACC.  Yep, he said it.  Here it is.
http://www.dailymail.com/Sports/WVU
Sports/201003120713


So kindly, straight-talking Bill Stewart just served notice:  If the Big Ten is going to start poaching Big East teams, don't expect West Virginia to hang around.  The purpose of this announcement?  Dunno.  Maybe to shock the Big East leadership into some kind of action?  Maybe to assure 'Eer fans that the Old Gold and Blue isn't going to be left out in the cold?  Could be either, or, both or more that we can't even fathom at this point.

The most important recipient of the message is a party for whom it is not actually intended.  That's Jack Swarbrick and pals at Notre Dame.   Jack's still monitoring the situation as he said he would.  Here's what he's hearing.  Big East teams that might not be considered for Big Ten membership are openly saying they wont remain in the rump of the Big East after it's been picked over by the Big Ten.  So Notre Dame's desire to stay independent in football and a Big East member for all other sports?  Well Jack the Big East you might be a member of could be a lot smaller real soon. 

West Virginia has been a loyal member of the Big East and has been the flag-bearer for the conference during some pretty bleak post ACC raid days.  It was West Virginia that knocked off Georgia in a BCS bowl.  Yes that it is an SEC team.  It was West Virginia that knocked off Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl even after Rich Rodriguez bailed on the 'Eers to head for Michigan.  Yup, a Big 12 team.  And it was West Virginia that also knocked off Georgia Tech and North Carolina in the Gator and Meineke Bowls.  Sorry bout that ACC.

For a Big East stalwart like West Virgina to say that it's looking forward to a future without the Big East means one of two things.    Either the Big East better get it's act together and do something proactive to ensure the survival of its football conference, or it won't have one. 

What could the Big East do?  A helluva lot more than what Commissioner John Marinatto was quoted as saying on Tuesday.  John was happy to tell the Times what he thinks his job is.  Here it is:


"My job is to keep everyone grounded and to improve the conference and insulate it from changing.”  
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/s
ports/ncaafootball/10irish.html



 Insulate it from changing.  Fabulous.  So basically, just make sure the basketball only schools don't get outvoted in the 16 team conference.  Reactionary strategy like this is  not going to save Big East football.  It's a way to guarantee it's death.  What could the BE do?   Well John, have you figured out yet that if the Big Ten and Pac 10 expand, the Big East will be the only BCS conference without 12 teams?  I'd start expanding John, and fast, because if you don't have the magic number of 12, you're not going to be in the BCS for long.  Apparently that's not important to the BE brain trust in Providence.  Just make sure the basketball teams don't get outvoted.

Hell here's an idea.  BE football schools, all eight of you, call up the Big 12.  Tell them, hey we hear you're being targeted for extinction as well.  Waddaya say we join forces to keep these piranhas at bay.  Take 6 or 7 of the BE football schools and make an eastern conference of the Big 12.  It's now the Big 18.  Hey if  you lose Colorado to the Pac 10, just move Louisville to the western conference.  If you lose Nebraska too, take all eight BE teams and move Cincy to the west.  Radical?  Sure.  Drastic?  You bet.  Aren't we talking about the actual survival of two BCS conferences here?  Do you really think the BCS would mess with this powerhouse?  Makes a pretty good basketball conference too.  Travel?  Not a problem.  Five division games, four conference games.  So you have to make two long trips a year.

A helluva lot better than "insulating against change."

Posted on: March 10, 2010 4:56 pm
 

Say It's Notre Dame. What Now Big East?

I'm very happy today to have a whole new avenue of speculation.  Notre Dame says yes, and the Big Ten tells everyone else, "Thank you for playing.  We have the lovely home version of Big Ten Football you can watch on your own TV."  After all, Notre Dame is who the Big Ten wanted all along right?  No calculations of TV market, or arguing with cable providers about cable tiers, that's it.

Much of the college football world could breathe a sigh of relief.  Not the Big East.  With Notre Dame's departure, the balance of power in the BE is once again askew.  Eight football teams, Seven basketball only teams.  The carefully crafted 16 team behemoth was made solely to keep the basketball only schools from getting outvoted.  Well ND, a basketball only school (funny to think of them that way) leaves.  Who replaces them?  Or does the fight over the answer to this question blow up the Big East?

Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, and St. Johns will obviously want another basketball only buddy to keep them from getting outvoted by West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, USF, Cincy, Louisville and UConn.  At the same time, Big East football cries out for a ninth team to allow a balanced conference schedule of 4 home and 4 away every year.  Finding three out of conference games will be tough enough if this expansion craze catches on.  Do you really want to try and find 4 every other year?  I would expect the football crowd to demand another football school.  If Big East football has any chance of surviving, it needs to start getting bigger and fast.  Do you really think the other BCS conferences are going to tolerate a BCS bid for an eight team league if all the other BCS conferences have gone to 12?  Fat chance.

Is this the straw that breaks the camel's back?  Does it finally split the Big East into basketball only and all-sports confereces?  I don't see any way around it.  There's no more room for a Tranghese-like maneuver of adding one football school and two basketball schools.  An eighteen team Big East?  No way.  Even if the Big East brings in a Memphis, a school with a good basketball program, they still have D1 football.  Eventually that will be the way their votes are cast.  So if the basketball schools allow another football school to join, they're moving to the back seat.  Something that won't sit well with the Providence hierarchy of the BE.

So if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, the Big East could turn from the hunted to the hunter.  An eight team football conference looking for new members.  And a seven team basketball-only conference looking as well.   I'll leave basketball to their own devices.  Here's my choice for an expanded all-sports Big East (which we'll have to call something else because the basketball schools will probably get that name.)

North
Rutgers
UConn
Syracuse
Pitt
Temple
Buffalo?

South
West Virginia
Louisville
Memphis
UCF
USF
Cincinnati
East Carolina?

Memphis brings basketball credibility and potential rivalries with Louisville and Cincy, UCF a potentially large TV market and a rivalry with USF,  and Temple good basketball, a football program that looks like it's on the way back to respectability along with a potential rivalry for Rutgers.  East Carolina/Buffalo is a tougher call.  East Carolina has a very good football program and had it long before Skip Holtz.  So while the coaching change hurts, I expect them to maintain their level of play.  Buffalo lost Turner Gill, and doesn't have the steady history of ECU.  Geographically they're a good fit and provide a  geographical rival for Syracuse as well as Pitt.

Or maybe the Big East will just ask Texas to join. 

Posted on: March 9, 2010 5:54 pm
 

The Gorilla Speaks-ND Starting to Look Interested

Well that didn't take long.  Sunday I wrote that despite the recent rumblings about Rutgers being the front runner in the Big Ten sweepstakes, no one should forget Notre Dame who could decide to make a late entry at any time.  Well today Jack Swarbrick definitely left that possibility open.

"Our preference is clear," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Tuesday. "I believe we're at a point right now where changes could be relatively small or they could be seismic."Swarbrick said it will be up to him and university president Rev. John Jenkins to "evaluate the landscape" if realignment happens."You can each come up with a scenario that would force our hand," he told a small group of reporters at a Manhattan restaurant.
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/
story?id=4979435


Nothing really new here.  It's just getting a lot more attention this time.

So what would this doomsday scenario be?  Well emergence of the superconference for one.  If the Big Ten, Pac Ten, and SEC all go to fourteen or more,  I think ND jumps.  Even if just the Big Ten looks like it's going to fourteen Notre Dame could jump in, just because this could decimate the Big East where Notre Dame's non-football teams reside.  So basically Swarbrick has just given the Big Ten the recipe on how to make Notre Dame jump.  Create a big enough landslide so that the tectonic plates of college football start moving.  The B10 goes to 14, Pac Ten goes to 14, SEC goes to 14, hell who's going to be left to play Notre Dame?  This nuclear option I think also spells the death of the Big East and Big Twelve as we know it.  That to me stinks.  Many storied rivalries will go down the tubes on this realignmnent.  Why?  Because $20 million per team per year is not enough for the Big Ten.  Oh well, rant over.

There may be some hope and it involves a huge game of chicken.  My bet is the Big Ten's preference is still to go to just twelve by adding Notre Dame.  So, if Delany can convince Notre Dame that the Big Ten is willing to push the button on a massive three team raid, probably on the Big East,  Swarbrick cries uncle.  So Notre Dame goes to the Big Ten, and the Big East and/or Big Twelve survive for the time being.  The Pac Ten keeps pace and adds one as well.  If it's Colorado, does Arkansas jump back to its old Texas buddies in the Big 12 and the SEC poach one from somewhere else?  Who knows?  But this isn't the big seismic shift at least.

Even if this is the present end game, one gets the feeling the Big One is still coming.  If twenty million is not enough for the Big Ten teams, the SEC won't stand for the status quo either.  The Big East and Big 12 will continue to be in the crosshairs of the other BCS conferences.  Eliminating the Big 12 and Big East from the BCS bowl picture gives the other conferences a second team to cash in on the BCS riches every year.  So even if Notre Dame finally climbs into bed with the Big Ten, that won't be the end of the story.

So when will we know?  My money's on the end of June.  When the Big East expanded last time, the original members got a "get out of jail free card" that said they could leave any time before June, 2010 with no penalty.  After that I believe it's a 5 million goodbye letter.  What a coincidence!  Isn't that what's been bandied about being the "entry fee" to the Big Ten that Barry Alvarez has been alluding to?  Should be a lot of shaking and baking before June this year.

Posted on: March 7, 2010 5:41 pm
 

Big Ten Expansion - Notre Dame Is Still A Player

Yeah I know, I know. The Chicago Tribune says Rutgers is the leader.  Big Ten fans that think their conference should expand only for a storied program are unhappy.  Pitt fans that feel their history and location count for everything are livid.  Rutgers fans who would love to see Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in Piscataway are optimistic.

Well just wait a minute.  As much as I hate to throw cold water on fellow Rutgers fans, there's still a thousand pound gorilla in the room.  Yes, he says he's independent.  That may not continue though.

Now even Notre Dame fans will be angry.  How dare I question the Irish' desire for continued football autonomy?  Well think about this.  ND's AD has repeatedly said ND wants to stay independent.  People overlook another part of what he has said.  That was that ND would continue to monitor the situation as to how it could affect Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is very happy now to stay independent in football and a Big East member in everything else.  Why not, they're a member of the top basketball conference in the country.  What if the second part of that is put in jeopardy by Big Ten expansion plans?  Now Rutgers going to the Big Ten is not going to cause the downfall of the Big East.  What happens if the Big Ten poaches Rutgers  AND  Syracuse?  AND Pitt?  Or throw UConn in for one of the above.  Now take a look at Big East.  Football?  Not good.  Basketball?  Losing two of Syracuse, Pitt and UConn is a big hit.  Does the Big East still have the same value to ND as a host for all of its other teams with three teams poached by the Big Ten?  Next does it cause other football schools with good basketball programs like West Virginia and Louisville to look elsewhere, further dilluting the basketball league?  So you may end up with a Big East sans Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, UConn, West Virginia and Louisville.  Big East basketball kind of loses some of its luster doesn't it?  Something I'm sure Jack Swarbrick and his friends are keeping an eye on.

So let's suppose it becomes pretty certain that three BE schools are going to make the jump to the Big Ten.   Then all of a sudden, a phone call goes out from South Bend.  You know Mr. Delany we've had second thoughts.  We've rather be a full member of the Big Ten than a football independent and a member of the rump of the Big East.  Somehow I think Mr. Delany would reconsider his list of five, fifteen or whatever number it's at now.

Scenario #2.  Notre Dame plays the White Knight.  Once again, the tea leaves in South Bend indicate that three Big Easties are about to head west.  So a phone call goes out from South Bend to Providence, RI.  Notre Dame would like to help out its Big East brethren.  If the three teams about to head west agree to stay, Notre Dame will join the Big East for football.  After all, ND wants to help out its conference mates in this time of need.  Oh and by the way, ND wants a deal that makes Texas' agreement with the Big 12 look foolish.  Just some little things like keeping all of their TV money, in addition to getting a cut of BE money, requiring certain away games being played at large pro stadiums with ND getting a cut of the gate, and various other sweetheart deals that only someone truly concerned with helping their conference mates could come up with.

Yes the gorilla wants to stay independent now.  But if his access to bananas is threatened, or if it looks like he can get more bananas by joining a conference?  Bet on the bananas.

Posted on: March 6, 2010 2:05 am
 

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg Should Pay Frank the Tank

Just surfing around the net today, and I wound up on ESPN's Big Ten blog written by Adam Rittenberg.  My position is that Adam should start sending part of his paycheck to blogger Frank the Tank.  Here we have the self-styled leader in sports programming, assigning writers (I use that term losely) to write blogs on the BCS football conferences.  Sounds like a good idea.  So we'd expect some reporting that you wouldn't otherwise get in the papers or on SportsCenter right?  So what did Adam the wordsmith have today about Big Ten expansion?  Two links to fan blogs.  Now how's that for insightful journalisim?

One of the blogs linked was that of "Frank the Tank" a Big Ten blogger who recently has gained some press (thanks in part to lazy reporters like Rittenberg) due to his early suggestion that the Big Ten should get Texas to hop on board.  Well, when the Texas/Big Ten rumours surfaced a few weeks ago, Frank looked rather prescient.  That is until the recent recent statements by  the Wisconsin AD and an article by the Chicago Tribune that Texas wasn't on a list of first fifteen and later five schools that were being considered.  Frank's latest blog takes issue with this and I'll address that further in a moment.

First let me say that Frank and I had a civil exchange of views on the Rutgers Rivals board the other day and as a fellow blogger, I respect him.  He makes no excuses for the fact that he is an Illinois and Big Ten fan and doesn't really believe or even like the idea of Rutgers going to the Big Ten.  I heartily disagree with him, but as a blogger I'm happy for him that his work, which he probably gets no money for, is getting some notice.

I no longer have any respect for Rittenberg.  He's getting paid by ESPN.  So as part of his journalistic efforts, he cites fan blogs?  Well Rittenberg I think you should hand over part of your paycheck to Frank the Tank.  Because it's clear from a comparison of your writing and Frank's, that Frank has put a heluva lot more time and effort into his.   Since you're doing nothing but piggy-backing off of his work, it's only fair that you should send Frank some of that big salary of yours.   And Frank if you get some money for this I expect at least a beer for championing your cause.

Alright let's take a look at Frank's latest blog which I disagree with.  The Chicago Tribune recently came out with a story that the Big Ten had hired an investment firm to look at whether expansion would be profitable.  Apparently the firm found it was and the names of Rutgers, Missouri, Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse were the five schools mentioned.  The Tribune's Teddy Greenstein wrote a further article, citing unamed Big Ten and other conference sources indicating that the best choices would be: 1. Rutgers, 2. Missouri, and 3. Syracuse.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport
s/college/chi-big-ten-expansion-sid
e-mar02,0,4339535.story


This didn't sit well with Frank, who understandably as a Big Ten fan, would like to see one of the most storied football programs in history, in the form of either Notre Dame or Texas join.  http://frankthetank.wordpress.com/2
010/03/02/big-ten-study-leaked-what
s-the-purpose/

Fair enough.  But in his zeal for stating his case, he stepped on the toes of the oldest Division I football program so some wrongs have to be righted here.  Frank's first attack on the Tribune article is an attempt to find another reason one of Chicago's most respected sportswriters could publish something as heinous to Frank as Rutgers to the Big Ten.  The reason?  Well it seems to be a veiled message to Texas, that the Big Ten is willing to expand with other teams and Texas should come running.  In fact Frank is aghast that the Big Ten could treat Texas fans so poorly.

My personal opinion is that it would be unconscionable to have Texas alums legitimately considering a move to the Big Ten (and generally not having a knee-jerk reaction to it in the same way as Notre Dame alums) and then add a school like Rutgers or Missouri instead, but I’m just an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

So not only would the Big Ten be making a huge mistake by taking Rutgers, they would also (heaven forbid) insult Texas alums.  Now Jim Delany may be a man of high moral fiber and impeccable manners.  I just don't think he's that concerned if Texas alums are disappointed.   I don't think Frank does either.  That's when he started taking some shots at Rutgers.  After wading through some poorly contrived analogies about Little League baseball and awkward NBA centers, I believe Frank is trying to say that NYC is a bad town for college football.  You know, it's a pro town, they'll never watch college football so Rutgers will never deliver a big TV crowd.  Now if Rutgers was a pro team, the argument would have some merit, with the Giants and Jets already in town.  However, New York City has not had a decent college football team to even consider since the Army teams of Blanchard and Davis in the 40's.  I lived and worked in New York for several years and New York loves a winner.  So if Greg Schiano can keep improving Rutgers football program, and it starts competing in BCS bowls, New York will take notice.  What about the argument that there's just so many entertainment dollars in a given area and if it's already saturated with pro teams, no one will support the college game?  Well if you live in Pittsburgh, with a population of 300,000 that can be a problem.  New York's smallest borough, Staten Island has over 400,000 people (and is 15 minutes from Rutgers.)  The city has over 7,000,000 people!  Nope, there's plenty of sports dollars to go around.  But New Yorkers demand a winner, and if Rutgers doesn't win, they won't be followed.   Fortunately for the Scarlet Knights they have been winning and crowds have risen from around 20,000 when Schiano took over to almost 50,000 last year.

Frank's parting shot was that the Big Ten has been waiting around for Notre Dame for years, why would they "settle" for Rutgers now?  Actually, there were several reports shortly after Penn State joined in the early 90's that the Big Ten was considering Rutgers, which at that time was a football only member of the Big East and played its basketball in the Atlantic Ten.  Funny how once those reports came out the Big East decided to offer Rutgers full membership for football and basketball.  So Rutgers to the Big Ten is not a new idea.

More importantly, times have changed since the 90's.  At that time, academics, cultural fit, tradition were much more important that they are today to the Big Ten.  (Not that Rutgers is a slouch in academics or tradition.  Cultural fit?  Yeah, the Northeast is probably more like the West Coast than it is the Midwest).  So when Penn State joined, these were the big considerations.  Today they are all trumped by one.  The Big Ten Network is a cash cow that puts about $20,000,000 in the pockets of each Big Ten school every year.  This money making machine can make even more by expanding its reach to more viewers.  Hmmm let's see, where's the closest place to the Big Ten's existing footprint that could provide a ton of viewers? (And it ain't St. Louis).  Yep, good old New York.   Well what if Rutgers can't deliver New York City?  That's ok, they'll just deliver the State of New Jersey which is the fourth largest TV market behind NYC, LA, and Chicago.  Oh and Penn State?  Remember how Comcast wouldn't pay you full price for Philadelphia?  Guess what's also part of Philadelphia's viewing area?  You guessed it, NJ.  So Rutgers could help you with a nice increase there too.  So Frank, if you want to know how Rutgers could be considered by the Big Ten, here it is.  It's called money, pure and simple.  And this is exactly what your beloved Big Ten is looking for, not prestige, and not prior national championships (although Rutgers does arguably have one).  Good old filthy lucre.  So don't be mad at Rutgers Frank.  If the Big Ten could be satisfied with 20 million per team annually, you could keep the Big Ten exactly the way you like it.  But apparently they're not.
 
 
 
 
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